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GAO Sues White House for 'Right' to Energy Data

Wednesday, 30 January 2002 12:00 AM

"The Congress has a right to the information we are seeking in connection with its consideration of comprehensive energy legislation and its ongoing oversight activities," GAO Comptroller General David M. Walker writes in his decision Wednesday to take Vice President Dick Cheney to court.

"Failure to provide the information we are seeking serves to undercut the important principles of transparency and accountability in government," Walker writes. "These principles are important elements of a democracy [sic]."

Cheney spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise said the White House would fight in court to shore up its prerogative to gather input on important policy issues, without those discussions "later becoming party of a partisan press release." That prerogative has been eroded over the years, White House officials said.

"The president and the vice president are committed to defending this important constitutional principle," Millerwise said. "They want to leave the White House in better shape than when they got here."

House Energy and Commerce Committee member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and John Dingell, D-Mich., are behind GAO's effort to look into the matter, which has been frustrated by adamant White House lawyers for nine months. The two Democrats said they were concerned over the possible influence of big energy companies, including Enron Corp., in the development of energy policy.

Four Democrat senators recently asked GAO to continue the quest for information on the task force. Walker said Wednesday the senators' input was key in his decision to press forward with legal action. Those were Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. (an Enron beneficiary), Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Waxman on Wednesday released a scathing letter to Cheney, criticizing White House arguments that it acted to preserve the integrity of discussions with stakeholders.

Cheney said on the ABC News Program "This Week" on Sunday, "We are weaker today as an institution because of the unwise compromises that have been made over the last 30 to 35 years." He predicted that the fight with the GAO "probably will get resolved in court."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The Congress has a right to the information we are seeking in connection with its consideration of comprehensive energy legislation and its ongoing oversight activities, GAO Comptroller General David M. Walker writes in his decision Wednesday to take Vice President Dick...
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Wednesday, 30 January 2002 12:00 AM
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